Monday, August 1, 2016

JULY 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

 

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1. U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis), you know-- the guy who got rich (net worth over $24 million) by finding someone to support him, has a pearl of wisdom for all the working single moms out there:  If she wants to "increase her take-home pay” instead of having yet "another child out of wedlock" to increase her welfare windfall, she should instead "find someone to support her."
 
Johnson is quick to admit that he stole this incredibly sexist riff from his uber-misogynist pal, U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman.  But some things are so awesome, that you just have to use them yourself! Some variation of this single mom marrying the government instead of a marrying real man has become a central talking point of Johnson's stump speech as he gears up for re-election 2016.  
 
As anyone who works and has kids would expect, Johnson and Grothman's modern redux of the "welfare queen" has been rated "Mostly False" by Politifact and was given "Two Pinocchios" by the Washington Post's fact checker. Why?  Because it is a ridiculous notion to suggest that when you’re a single parent, working below the poverty line, you would intentionally have another child to get more government assistance and "increase your take-home pay."  Obviously, food stamps, health care and other government assistance don't come close covering all the expenses that come with having a child and what Johnson and Grothman fail to grasp in their misleading calculations of "income," is that children actually eat and children actually get sick-- the "increased income" they're talking about comes in the form of increased benefits that all (in most cases literally) get eaten-up by the children.
 
Besides, most single women with children don't receive government assistance that we typically think of as "welfare."  And, most single women are in the workforce. Most new college graduates today are women and there are even more lady lawyers and lady doctors coming down the pike than men!  
 
Of all the statements that demonstrate that Ron Johnson doesn't live in the same world as the rest of us, this one really takes the cake.  Of course, what would we expect from someone who has never had to worry about job security and making ends meet, as he coos from the protective cocoon that his wife's wealthy family has built for him? 
 

2. A Few Tasty Absurdities From Donald Trump: The Donald belatedly came to an opinion on the Supreme Court's ruling this month that nixed Texas' onerous restrictions on abortion clinics. And as is expected, when Donald Trump is forced to weigh in on subject not directly related to which things are classy and which are not, it is a stupid response worded stupidly. He told radio host Mike Gallagher:
 
“Now if we had—Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump said of the ruling, which struck down a restrictive Texas abortion law.
 
The ruling was 5-3. If Scalia had been alive it would have been 5-4. The only way a Trump appointment would have made a difference here is if Trump declared that his nominated Supreme Court justices got three votes per case while everybody else still only got one.
 
Radio host Mike Gallagher apparently wanted to make quite sure he got Trump on the record on this one, and so followed up: So under a Donald Trump presidency, "you wouldn't see a majority ruling like the one we had with the Texas abortion law this week." Right?
 
"No, I—you wouldn't see that. And—and people understand that. And, now you know, when you appoint judges sometimes, they change their minds. Because you had that in the case of Obamacare with John Roberts. I mean, who would've thought that couldn't happened?"
 
So to sum up, Donald Trump's opinion on the Supreme Court ruling—and mind you, there was nothing in this entire exchange to suggest that Donald Trump knows what the ruling was, or what it was about, or even the slightest bit of information beyond the vague understanding that conservatives didn't like it—is that it would have happened differently under President Trump because of magic, and if it didn't happen differently it wouldn't be his fault because you can't trust them darn judges anyway.
 
You could have asked him to voice an opinion on any other Supreme Court ruling, including ones you just made up to see if he was paying attention, and I'd wager the response would be the exact same generic words arranged in the exact same generic way. What did you think of the court's decision in Godzilla v. Larry’s Diner & Rib Shack, et al, Mr. Trump?
 
"If Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn't have had that, OK? It would have been the opposite. But when you appoint judges, sometimes they change their minds..."
 
More:
At a rally in Cincinnati, Trump reiterated his belief that Saddam Hussein was “bad” but “effective in killing terrorists,” apparently oblivious—or, probably more correctly, uncaring—that Hussein was classified by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism. This is like saying Hitler was bad, but at least he got the trains to run on time. Pause for a moment and think of this moron in charge of our foreign policy.
 
And yet another:
I want to remind people of Donald Trump's words and what it means in the larger context of what is at stake in this election. This is from December of last year:
 
“We're losing a lot of people because of the Internet and we have to do something. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas closing that Internet up in some way… Somebody will say, 'oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people… we've got to maybe do something with the Internet because they are recruiting by the thousands, they are leaving our country and then when they come back, we take them back.”
 
What Donald Trump is saying here is that he would be willing to use Federal power to order the private companies that own and control most of the basic infrastructure to curb free speech in the name of security. He is being very explicit here about what he believes are the scope of the power of presidency, which is essentially limitless, unless, of course, a Democrat sits in the Oval Office.
 
3. Arizona Senator John McCain. McCain’s “blame Obama for everything” tour continues. A couple of weeks ago, Obama was “directly responsible” for the Orlando massacre, according to McCain. Now it’s problems in Afghanistan:
 
“I don’t blame Ashraf Ghani. I blame the United States of America for not consolidating the gains that we made,” McCain said. “And this president has this idea for the last eight years that if we pull out of conflicts, those conflicts end.”
 
Yeah, why couldn’t Obama fix Afghanistan after five years of George W. Bush’s war there, to say nothing of the legacy of the Soviets and the troubled years between the Soviet Army leaving and the American one moving in? That guy Obama, I’ll tell you. Can’t even solve a simple problem like Afghanistan.
 
Oh, but there’s more to blame him for (if you’re John McCain). There was a recent terrorist attack in Turkey. Can we pin that on Obama? Of course we can!
 
“Let me give you an example of what just happened. In Istanbul, the rise of terrorism and a base for terrorism in a place called Raka [Syria, where the Islamic State is based], and that is now, that ISIS group is now establishing a beachhead. Guess where? Afghanistan,” McCain said. “We see abject failure of American policy and no strategy. I don’t blame Pakistan for that. I don’t blame Ashraf Ghani for that. I blame this president of the United States, who is a failed leader.”
 
If John McCain was a little more relevant these days, there’d surely be a Saturday Night Live sketch showing him blaming Obama for sins ranging from the drought in California to McCain’ chipmunk face.
 
4. Former Illinois Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh. The one-term Congressman (luckily) didn’t waste any time to use the tragic policemen shooting in Dallas to peddle his well-known hate. He took to twitter with:
 
“This is now war. Watch out Obama, watch out Black Lives Matter punks. Real America is waiting for you.”
 
It made no difference to Walsh that the shooter, Micah Johnson, was an army veteran with no known ties to the BLM movement or other political groups.
 
I shudder to think that “real Americans” are hate-filled, racist, militaristic xenophobes like Walsh, but, sadly, this is what much of the world is coming to believe.
 
5. Happy Days Star Scott Baio. Baio has frequently put his ignorant and bigoted credential on display, but perhaps no more so than when offered his opinion on President Obama:“[Obama]’s dumb, he’s Muslim, or he’s a Muslim sympathizer,” then added: “I don’t think he’s dumb.”
 
Baio’s obvious expertise on how to keep America safe must have appealed to Donald Trump, who asked him to speak at the Republican nominating convention.
 
If you’re wondering if Trump finally understands the seriousness of his party’s nomination—if he’s finally growing up—and will now control his every instinct and act like a president, the answer is two words: Scott Baio.
 
6. The Republican Party Platform. The 2016 Republican Party’s expansive platform makes it perfectly clear: the party hates gays, wants to put women back in the kitchen, and insists on religious law. Repeatedly libertarian forces in the party raised objections to the parts of the platform that drove Republicans ever deeper into social extremism. Again and again, the libertarians lost.
 
Meanwhile, every time extremists on the right put forward a new idea, whether it was Bundy-esque demands on federal land or gratuitous attacks on President Obama, the plank was accepted. The result is a document that’s far to the right of the 2012 platform, decades out of sync with social reality and enormously intolerant.
 
The Republican platform takes a strict, traditionalist view of the family and child rearing, bars military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source and declares pornography a “public health crisis.” And while Republicans continue to warn about the non-existent threat of Sharia Law, their platform insists that religious law isn’t an option—it’s required.  The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”  It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.”
 
Who interprets God-given, natural rights? Conservatives, of course, and their interpretation presents an incredibly strict, incredibly narrow, and quite detailed picture of what it takes to be a Real American. It appears the Republicans want to prevent Sharia Law by imposing Sharia Law.
 
Several of the issues added were in areas where the Supreme Court has already given a decision, such as the legality of gay marriage or the use of “religious freedom” laws to permit discrimination against gays. That they had lost on these issues only hardened the Republican positions. 
 
Amendments were proposed that toned down the language on homosexuality. They failed. Amendments were proposed that recognized how LGBT people had been the targets of hate crimes. They failed; in fact, every proposal that tried to offer any sort of inclusion was dismissed as “identity politics.”
 
But nearly every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. The platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and makes references to appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”
 
Also in the Republican platform: Restricting bathroom access for transgender Americans; “conversion therapy” for parents who want to “cure” their gay children; the idea that only a man and a woman together in marriage can properly raise children. The platform even has a statement against “cohabitation,” a fight that was lost some time while the Smothers Brothers was in its initial run. Oh, and when it comes to immigration, Trump’s wall is now an official part of the platform. So is a statement that there should be no limit on the size of magazines for weapons. 
 
The party of Lincoln--the “Party of the People”-- has come to identify with homophobes, male chauvinists, religious extremists, white supremacists, xenophobes, and other hate-filled, intolerant bigots. They nominated the right man.
 
7. Sarah Palin. Including a Palin absurdity has become habitual. Responding to a question on Greta Van Susteren's show this month about what she thought of President Obama's reference to America's "Sputnik moment" during his State of the Union address, the loony one showed her brilliance:
 
GRETA: Governor, last night there was a lot of discussion about the Sputnik moment the President wants us to have. Do you agree with him? Is this our moment?
 
PALIN: “That was another one of those WTF moments, when he has so often repeated, the Sputnik Moment, that he would aspire Americans to celebrate, he needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory and that race to space, yeah, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union so I listen to that Sputnik Moment talk over and over again and I think, no we don’t need one of those.”
 
Of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union had nothing to do with Sputnik (and does Palin really think its collapse was a bad thing?), but the point of President Obama's speech wasn't that we should emulate the Soviet Union -- it was that we should emulate our own history and our own response to Sputnik, which we did in going to the moon and beyond.

Palin obviously didn't understand that, which makes for a truly remarkable 45 seconds of television -- quite possibly the stupidest 45 seconds of babbling by a potential presidential candidate in American history.
 
8. Bill O’Reilly. While much of the world was taken with the grace, intelligence, and eloquence of Michelle Obama’s glorious speech at the Democratic convention, Bill O'Reilly saw an opportunity to put his hate and bigotry yet again on display.
 
It’s a statement that swiftly pulls together the sweep of history, bringing ugly facts often hidden in the “Founding Fathers” glow of the past, the First Lady in her Monday speech reminded the nation of an essential truth.
 
“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.” 
 
O'Reilly seized the moment, in his role as national historical revisionist, to inform everyone that slaves were just fine. On his program, The O'Reilly Factor, Tuesday night, the top-rated cable news host said working conditions were relatively favorable for slaves who helped build the White House more than 200 years ago.
 
"Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802," O'Reilly explained. "However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. Conditions were “relatively favorable for slaves.”
 
So conditions were “relatively favorable”? In fact the slave laborers were not well fed. They labored from dawn to dusk, 6-days a week. They received no pay, though their owners got $60/year. A poor grasp of facts has never deterred O’Reilly from pontificating on social and political issues, or on American history. Why do people listen to this charlatan?
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And the winner is:
 
It must go to the Republican Party Platform. For a party whose ticket to national electoral success would seem to require improving its image with women, minorities and young voters, the current platform constitutes a true bonehead absurdity.

Sorry the Bonehead Absurdities this month were so long; it was a big month for absurdities.



1 comment:

  1. Good call on the Republican platform it is the sum of all the other contenders. There is not much left to say about Trump after his latest tirade against a Gold Star Family. It’s just too scary to think this thin skinned ego maniac who has to be right no matter what may have the codes to our nuclear arsenal. John McCain did his absurdity eight years ago when he chose Sarah Palin for VP. He gave up his credibility and clear thinking skills with that choice and has gone downhill ever since. Joe Walsh and Scott Baio are little men of no consequence that should be in the same camp as Ted Nugent. Bill O'Reilly is a bigger fish because of his standing with Fox News and all the ditto heads that follow his bullying and misinformation. As you stated he is one of the proponents of re-writing history to serve his ideology. There are two others that are not on the absurdity list (this time) but could qualify for Bonehead stubbornness. House Speaker Paul Ryan probably the third or second most powerful man in the country, who has had to denounce countless times the racist bigotry of Donald Trump yet will continue to support him because “Hillary Clinton is worse”! And for the same reasons Mr. Obstructionist the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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